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Kosherfest 2016 Connects the Global Kosher Food Industry

Kosherfest, an international trade show for the kosher food industry, now in its 28th year, will be held at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus on November 15 and 16. Manufacturers will be meeting distributors, wholesalers and retailers to get their products—many first introduced at the show—onto the shelves and into consumer shopping carts. Menachem Lubinsky, president and CEO of Lubicom Marketing Consulting, founder and co-producer of Kosherfest, said the only common denominator among food exhibitors is kosher certification.

Kosher food is expanding as a category, and growing internationally. Lubinsky noted the rise of large, independent kosher markets that has taken place over the last five to seven years. Changes in the industry are enormous,” he said. “Large discounters have bought in, too. Costco, Walmart and Trader Joe’s now have major kosher sections. Every level is growing at a phenomenal pace.”

Lubinsky said there will be exhibitors and visitors from 21 countries around the world including Korea, Japan, Turkey and Russia. “Being kosher today allows manufacturers access to many markets they couldn’t be in if they weren’t kosher.” Israel is the largest kosher food market in the world, with about 80 percent of the products under kosher supervision. The United States is the second- largest market, followed by peripheral countries including South America, South Africa and Australia.

Exhibitors like the opportunity to cement relationships in the industry. Seth Leavitt of Englewood, who has owned Abeles & Heymann glatt kosher deli products since 1997, said the company has had a presence at Kosherfest for the past 19 years. “We viewed Kosherfest as an opportunity to bring our name to the public; we had never participated in a kosher food show before. “This year, Abeles & Heymann will have eight booths and part of a conference space where they can meet privately with buyers. He said participation in the show “reinforces our brand and allows us to make connections with key buyers in the industry. It keeps us current.” Abeles & Heymann is introducing new packaging for their products at the show and promoting their partnership with the Israeli manufacturers of the Hod Golan line of turkey products. Abeles & Heymann is best known for their premium hot dogs, cocktail franks, salami, corned beef and pastrami, including a line of healthier, no-nitrate-added products.

Cooking demonstrations are an integral part of Kosherfest and draw crowds. “Demos teach people how to use the products and create a buzz,” Lubinsky said. “The events put a spotlight on products as part of a meal. The people who watch all have an interest in food: chefs, company employees, R&D (research & development) people. And they’re instructive for the large number of restaurants opening.”

This year’s live events are being produced by Jamie Geller’s Joy of Kosher, with two days of cooking demonstrations and contests with chefs and cookbook authors. Deborah Shapiro, VP of marketing and operations, said some of the demos will include products from exhibitors at the show. Ted Dennard, founder of Savannah Bee Company, will show what goes into producing the many flavor profiles of honey. Chef Katsuji Tanabe, owner of LA and New York’s Mexikosher, will prepare kosher squab from Pelleh Poultry.

While attendance at Kosherfest is for the trade only, all of the kitchen events will be streamed live on Joy of Kosher’s Facebook page, including the finals of Jamie Geller’s Kosher Masters Culinary Competition. The contest called for followers of the page to submit videos of themselves making their favorite Rosh Hashanah dishes. Three finalists were selected and will compete live at the show.

Lubinsky said that with over 7,000 visitors expected, the area becomes Kosherfest city, drawing kosher food pros and enthusiasts together who create their own events. The Oscars have their after parties but Kosherfest has a before party. Kosherfeast has become an annual dinner event in New York the evening before the show opens, drawing bloggers, brands and chefs, with awards given out to personalities who have become prime influencers for kosher consumers.

Kosherfeast started six years ago, the brainchild of Roberta Scher, author of the blog KosherEye, and Esti Berkowitz, author of the blog Prime Time Parenting, who met each other at Kosherfest. “We thought about starting this for the kosher community since so many foodies come to New York and New Jersey for Kosherfest,” Scher said. The first event drew 26 people who met online and got together in a board room in the Meadowlands. This year’s dinner is drawing over 100 attendees at Le Marais, who will enjoy an exclusive tasting menu prepared by Executive Chef and Founder Jose Meirelles. The event will also launch the new website www.kosher.com, a central database of kosher recipes, menu generators and shopping lists with step-by-step videos, kosher news and cooking tips.

Kosher is not just matzah-ball soup and chopped liver anymore.

By Bracha Schwartz

 

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